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February 23, 1836, Logan County native James “Jim” Bowie hurried to gather provisions and herd cattle into the Alamo compound while he was ill and confined to a bed.  The Battle of the Alamo had begun.  It would end on March 6 when he died with his compatriots.

By N. Currier

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Lexington native Katherine Rebecca Pettit, born in 1868.  Pettit co-founded Pine Mountain Settlement School with Ethel deLong Zande in Harlan County.

February 23, 1874, the General Assembly passed “an act to protect the citizens of this Commonwealth from empiricism.”  The act prohibited the practice of medicine to anyone “who has not graduated at some chartered school of medicine in this or some foreign country.”  Physicians who practiced “regularly and honorably” for ten years were exempt from this requirement.

February 23, 1906, Louisville native Marvin Hart, known as the Louisville Plumber, lost the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in a decision.

By Found LOC Photo

February 23, 1921, Shelby County native Smith Cook passed over.  Known as the “largest policeman in the world,” the 64-year-old, 6’11” 275 lbs. police officer contracted blood poisoning after being bitten by a prisoner.  For two years, he guarded the door for the Kentucky House of Representatives.

February 23, 1935, Officer James Banahan, Lexington Police Department, died when a hit-and-run driver struck him while directing traffic on the Jefferson Street Viaduct.

On February 23, 1937, President F. D. Roosevelt established a national forest in Kentucky called the Cumberland National Forest.  As early as 1933, the federal government began acquiring land.  Initially, the forest contained 350,000 acres in 16 Kentucky counties.  Today, there are nearly 709,000 acres in 21 counties.  In 1966, after years of debate, the federal government changed the name to Daniel Boone National Forest.

February 23, 1938, three years into his 1st term as governor, Happy Chandler announced his bid for the U.S. Senate.  He would run against Senator Alben Barkley, the U.S. Senate’s Majority Leader.  In one of the most grueling campaigns marked by federal investigations and poisonings, Alben won decisively.  In 1939, Chandler resigned from the governorship to become a Senator after Senator Logan died in office.  Chandler and Barkley served together.

February 23, 1940, U.S. Senator Chandler filed for reelection to keep his senate seat.  No Democrats opposed him.  He won in November, and five years later, he resigned from his seat to become MLB Commissioner from 1945-51.  Chandler served two terms as governor, one U.S. Senate term, one Lt. Gov. term, and three years as a Frankfort Senator.

February 23, 1945, Pvt. Franklin Runyon Sousley, a native of Hill Top in Fleming County, was one of the six U.S. military personnel who raised the American flag on the crest of Mount Suribachi during the Battle for Iwo Jima.

February 23, 1951, sophomore Cliff Hagan grabbed a loose ball during the #1-ranked Cats’ 88-41 win over Georgia in their 1st game on their new home court in Memorial Coliseum.

February 23, 1955, during the campaign trail, Democratic Governor L. Weatherby called Happy Chandler backers hypocritical when they criticized the Weatherby administration for asking state employees to contribute to Bert Combs’s campaign.  Weatherby claimed Chandler did the same when he was governor.  Chandler, the rebel Democrat, ran against Combs.  Chandler won and served a 2nd term starting in 1955.  It would be the last time he held public office, but not his last race.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Lexington native John T. Shelby, born in 1958.  He began his centerfield career with the Baltimore Orioles and later played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers.  Shelby won two World Series: the 1983 Orioles and the 1988 Dodgers.  His teammates nicknamed him “T-Bone” because of his slight frame.

February 23, 1967, Marine Corps LCPL Leon G. Howard from Lytten in Elliott County died in the Vietnam War.

February 23, 1968, Army SP4 David Isom from Cottongim in Clay County died in the Vietnam War.

February 23, 1969, Army SP4 Edwin D. Caswell from Lexington, Marine Corps PFC Ronald McIntosh from Booneville in Owsley County and Army SP4 Robert J. Blaut Jr. from Silver Grove from Campbell County, all died in the Vietnam War.

February 23, 1970, Kentucky teachers began a statewide strike after they rejected a proposal offered by the state days earlier.

February 23, 1971, Army SP4 John W. Bruin from Georgetown and Army CW2 James A. Miner from Grove in Campbell County died in the Vietnam War.

February 23, 1972, Riverview at Hobson Grove, or Riverview or Hobson House, was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in Western Bowling Green.

By OPMaster

February 23, 1974, Patrolman Jonah Darrell Cox, Louisville Police Department, died from gunshots when he intervened in a disturbance outside of a nightclub while off duty.

February 23, 1980, Housing Equality for All of Lexington (HEAL) dedicated its 1st home.  HEAL began when five Lexingtonians formed a group to build houses for those who could not afford one.

February 23, 1986, Rex Chapman, a high school superstar, led his Apollo teammates to Memorial Coliseum to play Henry Clay, two of the best teams in the state.  Over 11,000 fans showed up.  Chapman hit a 22-foot jump shot over Sean Sutton with seconds remaining to win 68-67.

February 23, 2002, UK retired Sam Bowie’s jersey #31 to the rafters of Rupp Arena.

On February 23, 2003, Jamal Mashburn scored 50 points in the NBA for the 2nd time in his career.

February 23, 2013, Orb, trained by Lexington native Shug McGaughey III, won Gulfstream Park’s GII $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes.

February 23, 2019, with an 80-53 victory over Auburn, John Calipari moved past Joe B. Hall for the 2nd most victories by a UK head coach.  He trails only the Baron of the Bluegrass, Adolph Rupp.

February 23, 2022, Frankfort boosted incentives to attract huge tech giants.  Also, two assemblymen apologized for saying the phrase, Jew them down, in public comments explaining a certain revenue bill.  Meanwhile, under Senate Bill 15 and House Bill 71, shelters received funding to care for abused animals from the humans convicted of abusing them.

On February 23, 2023, while Frankfort fast-tracked anti-transgender legislation, one lawmaker wanted certain exceptions (rape & incest) regarding Kentucky’s law banning and criminalizing abortions.  Legislators introduced another bill, making it harder for teachers with sexual misconduct charges filed against them to move from one district to another.  Meanwhile, the 3,200 employees at Louisville’s Ford assembly plant entered into its 3rd week of shutdown over quality control issues.